What is a VUCA World? Before 2020, there were new terms and phrases to describe how our workplaces needed to adapt to rapidly changing situations. While people found them of interest, these terms did not really come to life until we collectively experienced a worldwide pandemic.  COVID-19 has illustrated how interconnected and interdependent we have become.  It shows us that what one person or organization does, impacts the whole system.  

The terms we heard before that have now come to life are VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous), systems thinking (taking into account the ever-changing dynamics in organizations and the world), and complexity (no longer are things complicated, they are complex).  These terms have come to the forefront for several reasons:

  1. The speed of change has been and is increasing rapidly with IT and AI.  This has increased interconnection and interdependence across the globe.
  2. Artificial Intelligence has been taking hold and is targeted to take on 50% of work activities that human beings currently do.
  3. The workplace has been restructured and strained with the evolution of the internet and AI.  How and where we work has changed even before 2020.  Freelance and temporary work in Canada is on the rise as a percentage of employment – 21.5 % of Canada’s workforce combined as of 2016 and is projected to continue to increase (Globe & Mail, May 16, 2018, Jared Lindzon).  IT has created environments where people can work remotely and enabled organizations to hire more contractors/freelancers rather than hiring people as employees.
  4. We have 4-5 generations working together.  More than 30% of the workforce in Canada is comprised of Millennial aged people, the single largest generation represented in the workforce since 2016.  This combination of various generations creates an environment with a greater variety of perspectives and ways of doing things.
  5. Products and services are now less differentiated, in many cases, than before.

These terms have now become more visible and relatable as we have experienced the unthinkable, an unthinkable that clearly demonstrates our VUCA world.  Our VUCA world is not going away.  Complexity will continue to increase.  Adaptability and agility will continue to be critical skills.  People will need to continue to build their capacity to navigate uncertainty, create environments of stability for themselves and their teams, and get out of fear to be creative and innovative.

Our realities require a different type of leadership than the now outdated command and control style.  A more collaborative type of leadership and focus on values-based organizational culture are what provide cohesion, alignment, engagement, productivity, and the competitive advantage.  Employees, clients/customers and stakeholders are looking to be heard and engaged.  According to Gallup, there is untapped disengagement of 66% in the North American workforce … which, when shifted can be turned into engagement, productivity and profit for your business.  The good news is that we can learn the skills for this newer style of leadership and practice it consistently.

In looking ahead to 2021 and beyond, how are you adapting your leadership, your team and organizational dynamics, and organizational culture to be relevant and competitive in our VUCA world? Schedule a 30-minute exploration call with me and discover how Spark Success can prepare you in adapting your leadership for these new dynamics.

Yours in iterative learning,


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